Almost two years ago, 23-year-old Brandon Gannon lived at home in
Reedsport, Oregon; finishing high school and preparing for college.
Today, he's the senior seaman aboard Coast Guard cutter Active who
is working to keep drugs from reaching America's shores while
learning to lead others.
Inspired by his friends, and with
his family's blessing, Gannon joined the Coast Guard in June 2016. A
year and a half after moving to Port Angeles, Washington, Active's
homeport, Gannon found himself in a unique position supervising
about 15 of his peers.
Not one to turn down a challenge,
Gannon accepted his new role in the command hierarchy.
October 11, 2017 - U.S. Coast Guard Seaman Gannon instructs a
newly reported shipmate on the proper way to use power tools while
removing rust spots from the deck of Coast Guard cutter Active.
Coast Guard cutter Active is homeported in Port Angeles, Washington.
(U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Nicole J. Groll)
"The command believed he had enough maturity to offer him
the position and allow him to become qualified in positions
usually reserved for petty officers," said Petty Officer 1st
Class John Koch, a boatswain's mate and Gannon's supervisor.
Such positions, usually reserved for senior leaders on a
cutter, include being the main qualified boat deck captain
on the ship. Gannon was responsible for leading the
davit-operating crew in safely lowering and raising the
26-foot small boat used for at-sea operations like pursuing
drug traffickers. The davit moved the small boat from the
deck and lowered the boat crew into the water for at-sea
"It was a qualification I had to get
quickly, but one I took very seriously," said Gannon.
The boat deck captain needs to be vigilant. The small
boat can weigh up to about 8,300 pounds and a mistake could
Gannon faced some leadership growing pains
as he strived to find balance in his new leadership role.
He relied on Koch's mentoring to help him overcome
leadership challenges he face in his new supervisory role
especially when giving orders to his friends.
understood when things didn't as smoothly for Gannon as they
could have," he said.
Gannon had other collateral
duties as well.
And those jobs could be dangerous. He
was in charge of leading the ground crew during flight
operations when a helicopter deployed to the ship. His
responsibilities included running beneath the rotating rotor
blades and making sure the helicopter was safely secured to
the ship with tie-down straps while not in use.
Aboard the 53-year-old, 210-foot ship, he was the damage
control petty officer for the deck department and seaman
berthing. This meant he was responsible for making sure the
areas were maintained, safe and secure in case of an
Gannon is now working toward receiving his
junior officer of the deck qualification. This qualification
allows him to assist the command in ensuring the cutter is
safe and secure while underway and in port.
parents are proud of me," said Gannon. "I know they were
scared for me at first, but it's gotten better the longer
I've stayed in."
The Active has taken him all over
the Eastern Pacific, quite the experience for someone who
had never left the country before joining the Coast Guard.
"I wanted to help people and be a part of something
bigger than myself," he said.
As a leader of his
peers on a world-class cutter, Brandon Gannon is well on his
By U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd Class Nicole J. Groll
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